by Christina Lee
In the fine jewelry world, a jewelry appraisal is a document that indicates a jewelry item’s value as determined by an individual appraiser for a certain market at the time the appraisal is performed. The appraisal specifies detailed features of the jewelry item including color and clarity grades, weight, measurements and number of gemstones, as well as type and weight of metal. The item description should be so specific and unambiguous that the person reading the appraisal can immediately identify the piece. An ideal appraisal will also state whether the gemstone has been treated or untreated; is natural or synthetic; the manufacturer and workmanship; and a photograph identifying the jewelry item.
Research the Appraiser Doing Your Jewelry Appraisal
When researching prospective appraisers, do an ample amount of research before making a decision. There is a big difference between a local jeweler appraising your piece with the ulterior motive of trying to buy your piece or sell you one of his and a professional appraiser fully versed in grading and valuating jewelry and gemstones who has nothing to gain or lose from any appraisal requested of him. Independent appraisers who are not trying to sell their own jewelry are the ones who are generally most capable of giving their unbiased opinion of a jewelry item’s value. Steer clear of appraisers who issue disclaimers on appraisals where the appraiser takes “no liability (or responsibility)” for the information given. Jewelry should be submitted for appraisal every 3 to 5 years to determine its current monetary market value.
The value determined by the appraiser is ideally based upon market research. Under no circumstances should a jewelry appraisal ever be inflated or undervalued as either result would have a negative impact on insurance premiums. An overvalued appraisal does not do the policyholder any favors in the event a claim must be made – rather, the insurance adjuster will need a complete item description provided by the appraisal to settle the claim.
There is no fixed fee that appraisers typically charge to have a jewelry item appraised. Jewelry owners can expect appraisers to charge based on individual experience, the difficulty in grading and/or appraising a particular jewelry item and even the size of the main gemstone in the piece. Some appraisers ask for a flat fee per item or have an hourly rate. Regardless of how the appraisal fee is assessed, be aware that it should never be calculated as a percentage of the value of the appraised item as this is unethical because a higher item value will result in a higher fee for the appraiser.
Lastly, keep in mind that although it is a highly respected and world-renowned laboratory that issues grading reports for diamonds and gemstones, the GIA does not appraise value of gemstones or jewelry. However, the GIA has published an extensive list of national appraisal associations and networks that can help appraisal seekers find reputable independent appraisers. Do note that independent appraisers often have a GG (GIA Graduate Gemologist diploma), along with proper appraisal training and credentials.